As a parent, you want to help your children succeed in life. You want them to do well in school, to establish friendships, and to experience good health. Did you know that good oral health can help develop these vital areas? When children suffer from bad oral hygiene, it negatively affects other aspects of life. Painful dental problems can lead to concentration difficulties and even missed days at school. An unhealthy smile and bad breath can lead to social awkwardness and low self-esteem. Unmanaged bacteria in the mouth can lead to serious medical problems.
Many parents mistakenly underestimate the value of their children’s initial 20 baby teeth. They may say “Why should I focus so much on teeth that are just going to fall out? I’ll make sure my child cares for his or her permanent teeth, but I’m not too concerned with baby teeth.” Yet these primary teeth play a vital role in child development. Primary teeth aid in speech development, proper chewing, and preparing the mouth for its 32 permanent teeth. By teaching your children how to care for their baby teeth, you are giving them the best chance for developing healthy permanent teeth.
An unhealthy mouth can lead to serious complications and consequences. To ensure that your children have positive experiences with dental visits and procedures, maintain their dental health at home.
The following guidelines will help you establish lifelong dental health in your children:
Develop habits early.
- Make your children’s oral health a priority at home. Take an active role in developing early habits so that dental care becomes an ingrained part of their lives.
- When your children are infants, use a damp cloth to wipe their gums after feedings
- As your children develop teeth, begin brushing with a gentle, soft-bristled children’s tooth brush.
- Once your children have all 20 baby teeth, you must begin flossing, as you will no longer be able to reach all sides of their teeth by brushing alone.
- Around age five or six, allow your children to start brushing their teeth on their own. You will still need to aid in flossing throughout most of their elementary school years.
Begin dental check-ups early.
- As soon as your child’s first tooth comes in (typically between six months and one year of age), schedule his or her first appointment.
- If your child is anxious in an unfamiliar setting, we will be happy to provide a tour of the office before the appointment date and introduce him or her to our team.
Wean the thumbs and pacifiers.
- Many children outgrow thumb-sucking and pacifiers on their own, but if your child is still sucking his or her thumb or pacifiers after teeth have begun erupting, this habit can lead to crooked teeth or even a malformed palate.
- Ask for help from the dentist on how you can curb this habit.
Prevent early decay.
- Don’t allow your children to take milk or juice to bed with them. (Sugars from these drinks coat their teeth while they are asleep.)
- If your children must have a drink, give them water.
Provide good nutrition.
- Encourage your children to try a variety of foods.
- Limit the amount of sugary and starchy foods to help prevent cavities.
Partner with your dental team.
- Vital Smiles Georgia wants to develop a long-term relationship with you and your children.
- Contact us with any questions you have regarding your children’s oral health and to schedule regular check-ups.